Oprah Sued for Quoting Excerpt of Book on TV, Copyright Gets “K Leg”

In Film Law, Legal News by FASHIONENTLAW™

No Gravatar

You know, I was thinking the other day how celebrities get sued over some of the most stupid things. Things like accidentally bumping into someone. With the most ordinary person, you say “sorry” or they say “sorry” and we move on with it. When you are a celebrity, you get sued. This case about Oprah reinforces my thought. I call it Copyright gets “K-Leg.” What is “K-Leg.” K-Leg in the context I use it is where a seemingly normal story gets a twist to it. It is a term I grew up hearing in Nigeria where I spent my early childhood. What’s the K-Leg here? Copyright law has really been turned on its head. Let’s say as an artist, designer or filmmaker, you make an appearance on a radio or TV show.

As the host and you enjoy your dialogue, hopefully, you quote your favorite excerpt from a book. Should you get sued? Do you need “consent” from the author to make such quote? The obvious answer is an emphatic “NO!” Think about the ridiculousness of the results not just on your case but the broader implications in society. Well this is what the latest suit against Oprah is all about. Sigh.

“Oprah Winfrey is being sued by the author of political booklet, How America Elects Her Presidents. Charles Harris claims in a lawsuit filed yesterday (late October) in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania that in 2008, as Winfrey began supporting Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, Harris sent 10 copies of his booklet to the Oprah Winfrey Show in hopes of gaining publicity. He followed up with several inquiries.

Harris got no response, but according to the complaint, on the February 16, 2009 show, Winfrey allegedly read aloud exact questions that were included in the book. Harris claims that the readings were plagiarism and constituted copyright infringement, which “caused and will continue to cause Plaintiffs to suffer substantial injury, loss and damage to its property and exclusive rights. . . and further has damaged Plaintiffs’ business reputation and goodwill, diverted its trade and caused a loss of profits all in an amount not yet ascertained.”

Harris is seeking Winfrey’s profits or maximum statutory damages of up to $150,000 per unlawful use

.” ~THR, Esq. Below is the complaint from Tech Dirt.

oprah lawsuit

Photocredit: ANI

WHAT IS Fashionentlaw™: It is a law blog discussing hot topics in pop culture that arise primarily out of the fashion industry and intersects/ collides with the law.

WHAT I DO: My name is Uduak Oduok and I am a California licensed attorney who helps creatives and business owners sleep better at night by protecting their creativity and reputation, securing their rights, and helping them with the monetization of their intellectual assets.

WHO I WORK WITH: I have counseled a range of clients from musicians, models, actors, actresses, and designers, to diverse business owners in numerous areas of the law including contracts, business law, fashion and entertainment law, copyright, trademark, and intellectual property law. I bring over two decades of first-hand knowledge and experiences that are as diverse as they are deep in the fashion and entertainment industries (modeling, retail, production, public relations, journalism, and publishing). I am an attorney who “gets it” when it comes to resolving legal issues for the fashion and entertainment industries.

INTERESTED IN TALKING TO ME ABOUT LEGAL REPRESENTATION? To arrange a consultation to discuss your case, contact me today at 916-361-6506 or email me directly at (uduak@ebitulawgrp.com).

Full bio: Ms. Uduak Bio/
Twitter @uduaklaw


Related Post